March 27, 2019
by Sandra Johnson
Psalm 39:1-7 NLT1 I said to myself, “I will watch what I do
and not sin in what I say.
I will hold my tongue
when the ungodly are around me.”
2 But as I stood there in silence—
not even speaking of good things—
the turmoil within me grew worse.
3 The more I thought about it,
the hotter I got,
igniting a fire of words:
4 “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.” Interlude
6 We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
not knowing who will spend it.
7 And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in you.
I recently stayed in a spacious hotel room equipped with many amenities. It was wonderful—except for one thing. Shortly after checking in, I discovered the air conditioning unit made a roaring noise if left on for extended periods of time. Each morning around 2:00 a.m. the noise would serve as an alarm clock, prompting me to get out of bed and turn off the unit. At breakfast for three mornings, I jokingly complained to friends and strangers about the noise the air conditioner made.
On the day I checked out of the hotel, I received a text message asking me to participate in a survey regarding my stay. I gave the hotel high marks in many areas, but saved my lengthy written response to detail the early morning "wake- up call" I had endured each day thanks to the noisy air conditioning unit. Lastly, the survey asked if the matter was reported to the hotel staff. Hesitantly, I selected the "NO" box.
In Psalm 39 David is complaining to God about God's treatment of him. David tries not to speak at all, but under the weight of his circumstances, his resolve collapses and he gives voice to his previously muted words. He complains, but we can learn a lesson from the way David complains. He is careful to take his complaint directly to God and not complain to others about God's treatment of him. If David had my survey opportunity, he could without hesitation select the "YES" box.
My inconvenience seems trivial in comparison to David’s suffering but both afford us the opportunity to see that complaining can be a healthy tool when used appropriately.
Initially, it was my intent to lift up the challenge of not complaining during Lent. However upon further reflection, perhaps a Lenten message from Psalm 39:1-7 is to always share our complaints with God, first, and then with the proper source as God directs.
Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for your listening ear when we cry out to you with our complaints. Grant us wisdom so that we might discern when our complaining is just and warranted. Merciful God, please forgive us when we complain more than we praise. Amen.